Sunday Times

Zuma stuns Top Six with cabinet edict


President Jacob Zuma shocked even his closest allies when he told the ANC top six about his decision to remove SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande from his cabinet.

Unlike previous reshuffles, when Zuma informed his allies before presenting his list to the top six, the Sunday Times understand­s that Zuma did not even consult those in the ANC who are considered to be close to him.

On the agenda at Monday’s meeting was the leadership struggle in the Eastern Cape following a disputed conference.

Zuma arrived from Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday night after spending three days travelling across Africa.

He arrived at Luthuli House on Monday a little later than usual. At about 11am the officials of the ANC gathered for their usual Monday meeting.

According to Luthuli House insiders, Zuma introduced the reshuffle topic by informing the officials of his plans to fill the vacancy created by the resignatio­n of disgraced former deputy minister of higher education Mduduzi Manana.

Zuma’s first choice to replace Manana, an unnamed female ANC MP, was rejected by all ANC officials.

“All of the officials didn’t want that woman for some reason or the other,” said a party insider privy to discussion­s at Monday’s meeting.

Zuma then listed the other changes he wanted to make to his executive, including the removal of Nzimande. This stunned the officials, who worried about the implicatio­n such a move would have on the already strained relations with the communists.

Zuma did not justify his decision but listened to objections.

“The immediate concern was how soon he was reshufflin­g the cabinet since the last one . . . it shows uncertaint­y,” the Luthuli House insider said.

However, even though Zuma merely informed the officials and did not consult them over the decision, he was a lot more receptive than during his previous decision to reshuffle the cabinet in March.

At the March meeting in Pretoria Zuma presented the top six with a final list of people he planned to move in and out of his cabinet and said it was not up for discussion.

“This time he apparently listened but didn’t say much,” the source said.

Concern was raised over why three ministers appointed only in March were already being moved out of their positions and whether it would be wise to bring in a relatively unknown MP, Bongani Bongo, to head state security.

At the end of the meeting, Zuma did not give any undertakin­g to consider the opinions of the officials. The meeting wrapped up just before 2pm, in time for a scheduled meeting of the ANC’s national working committee.

The NWC meeting was brief, focusing only on the situation in the Eastern Cape with a hint that there might be some changes in the government.

“It was a short meeting . . . they discussed that there will be a meeting over the weekend with Zizi [Kodwa as a deployee to the Eastern Cape] and that the ANC officials will spend the day there next Monday,” a second insider said.

The Sunday Times understand­s that tomorrow’s meeting has been postponed.

Last Tuesday Zuma called those who he appointed to new cabinet positions to deliver the news that he had appointed them but he did not say why he had done it this way.

The Sunday Times has learnt that he did not call Nzimande to tell the SACP boss of his axing.

One of the insiders said it was only after Zuma had released a statement that the officials realised the president had listened to them about the replacemen­t of Manana, but had ignored their concerns about Nzimande being replaced.

As a result, Zuma chose Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela to replace Manana, but did not seek a replacemen­t in Manamela’s place.

Many are now speculatin­g that this opens the door for another cabinet reshuffle before December.

Insiders said they had no idea when the besieged president would reshuffle his cabinet again but were not discountin­g that it might be soon.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said Zuma had not consulted the top six, just informed them of the reshuffle.

 ??  ?? SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, whose sacking gave rise to ANC concerns.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, whose sacking gave rise to ANC concerns.

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